National Post

March 30, 2002

Police love-triangle leads to child support lawsuit

Ex-husband seeks to recoup payments for girl who is not his

George Kalogerakis
The Gazette
National Post

MONTREAL - One Montreal police officer is suing another -- his former wife -- after she had an affair and a child with a third officer, then made the first one pay child support.

For six years, the first officer believed the girl was his until a DNA test proved otherwise. He is seeking $150,000 from his former wife so that every dollar he pays in child support will be recouped through the lawsuit.

Though the child is not his, Canada's laws can oblige him to pay support.

Though all sides refused to comment, court files tell the story.

The officer cannot be named because it is a family court matter. Fictitious names are used instead.

Jean and Joanne are in their late 30s. They married in the mid-1980s and had a daughter named Chantal in 1990. They divorced a few years later and agreed to share Chantal on alternating weeks.

Since both made the same $50,000 salary, neither paid the other child support. But by 1995, Jean was seeing his daughter a lot less -- two weekends out of five.

He had met another woman, with whom he had a child. Jean wanted to spend his free time with his new family and felt Chantal did not want to be with him because she kept crying for her mother.

Because she had become the main caregiver, Joanne filed for child support. Bitter that Jean was not helping more with expenses, she asked for $248 a week.

"He listens only to his wallet when I ask him to assume his financial obligations," one of her court papers said.

The request went to mediation, and Jean brought up a comment Joanne made during an argument years earlier. She had blurted out that Chantal was not his daughter before recanting her words.

The two agreed to a DNA test. If it found Jean was not the father, he would not have to pay anything.

The test proved exactly that, and the demand for child support was dropped. Another test found Joanne's former lover, an officer named Pierre, was the real father.

Pierre and Joanne started seeing each other again, and he paid for outings and food for his child. Pierre was older and had children from a previous relationship.

But Jean was still in the picture, seeing Chantal sometimes though he felt Pierre was taking over his role.

By 1997, Jean had stopped contact. Four years passed, and Chantal grew into an 11-year-old. Her mother and Pierre had broken up, the child was no longer seeing her real father.

Chantal was suffering, feeling guilt and fearful of being abandoned because of all the changes in her life, a psychologist said.

Last year, Joanne went to court and asked Jean -- not Pierre -- for child support. Both are now making $70,000 a year on the police force.

Jean called Pierre, by then retired from the force, and asked him to assume his responsibilities. Pierre consulted a lawyer before saying he did not want to get involved.

The law puts Jean at a disadvantage for a couple of reasons. First, he is still named as father on the birth certificate. Quebec's civil code gave him only a year upon learning he was not Chantal's father to remove his name.

Jean didn't change the certificate, he said, because his former wife assured him at the time he was off the hook.

A 1998 Supreme Court ruling also hurt Jean's chances. Canada's top court said step-parents could be required to pay for a child if they assumed a parenting role long enough.

A hearing was scheduled for December, 2001, but Jean's lawyer did not go because he thought the hearing was in January. Joanne won $325 a month in support by default.

Jean's lawyer alleges he was purposely given the wrong court date by Joanne's lawyer. Her side refutes the charge.

The court fight continues. Jean went to Quebec's Court of Appeal over the scheduling error.

He filed the $150,000 lawsuit last month. The suit says Jean realizes the birth certificate cannot be changed, but he blames the situation on Joanne's "lies and fraudulent misrepresentations."

He wants her to reimburse him the $100,000 it will cost to pay Chantal's child support until she is an adult and $50,000 for moral damages.

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